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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Kyle Haines

December 7, 2015

Kyle Haines | UncommonGoodsOur makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Kyle Haines, the artist behind our new Magnetic Motion Lamp.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always wanted to do my own thing. I have a “I want to be my own boss” type of mentality. I saw a way to do that by creating something unique. I used to only see myself as a “maker,” but know I definitely consider what I do to be an art. I’m proud to be the first person to create colored ferrofluid and now the first person to create a ferrofluid motion lamp. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of ferrofluid. I feel like it would be a disservice not to.

Magnetic Motion Lamp | UncommonGoods

 

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The look of amazement in a person’s eyes the first time they see my work. I believe that brief moment is what holds the true value.

Ferrofluid is a strange thing. I believe a healthy reaction to it is, “How is this possible?” I’m a science geek at heart and an avid learner, so I love this reaction. The truth is ferrofluid is nothing new. It’s been around since the 1960’s and has many applications that the average person just never gets to see, such as the manufacture of computer chips. It’s a great example of how we can break the mold using clever science.

No known material is actually magnetic in the liquid state. Ferrofluid is comprised of solid nanoparticles of magnetic material coated in a surfactant. The surfactant keeps the nanoparticles from agglomerating and have a very high affinity for the liquid carrier fluid the particles are dispersed in. This causes them to pull the fluid molecules with them when they move. These nanoparticles are so small that gravity can’t pull them out of the solution, and they stay suspended. All of this creates the illusion of a magnetic liquid. But really, it’s just a bunch of tiny magnets suspended in a liquid.

Kyle Haines | UncommonGoodsWhat does your typical day in the studio look like?

Lots of experiments. Ferrofluid everywhere. It’s very messy. I tend to go back and forth observing different experiments, then walk around in circles mumbling to myself, trying understand what I’m looking at. I’m sure I look like a crazy person. Sometimes, as I’m doing other things, an idea will come out of nowhere and I’ll just drop everything and rush off to put it to the test. I apply the scientific method to my process, but also practice a lot of trial and error.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

Other than the ferrofluid itself, no.

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

Hopefully, something like “Cool,” “Wow,” or “How does it work?”

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

“I know there’s a way.” I often say this to myself before I’ve found the actual way. I just have to remind myself that it’s there and I need to keep looking.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Kristen Juen

November 30, 2015

Kristen Juen | UncommonGoods

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Kristen Juen, the artist behind our new Mauna Planter and Dish and Valley Hanging Planter.

Mauna Planter and Dish | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artisan?

I have always had a passion for creativity. When I moved to Austin recently it felt like the right time and place to pursue a path as a maker.

What has been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artisan?

Sharing my joy and inspiration for creating with others!

Kristen Juen | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

I like to stay busy in the studio. I typically continue on a previous day’s work, while also starting something new so I always have something going. You will find me rolling out slabs, assembling new work, trimming, smoothing, and glazing. I also currently work out of a shared studio, so I learn a lot and gain inspiration from being around other creatives.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I do not have a specific trinket, but I gain so much inspiration from the outdoors. Getting out of the studio occasionally to take in the beauty, peace, and surprises that can be discovered in nature, is so important to the development of my creativity and ceramic wares.

Kristen Juen | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?

A kindergartner recently looked up at me during an art show in amazement and said, “Did you make all this?”

Valley Hanging Planter | UncommonGoods

What quote or mantrakeeps you motivated?

It can be scary to push myself to try new creative ideas that might completely fail. However, I recognize that my most exciting creations often evolve from these experiments. I am inspired and motivated to keep going by the Joseph Chilton Pearce quote, “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Jill Rikkers

November 23, 2015

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsOur makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Jill Rikkers, the artist behind our new Hand-Forged Cheese Set and Hand-Forged Serving Pieces.

Hand Forged Cheese SetWhen did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I was always making things as a kid. Anything creative and always busy putting things together. I grew up on a farm in New York so keeping myself occupied was part of that lifestyle.

Hand Forged Serving Pieces | UncommonGoods

What’s been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The most exciting thing about creating wonderful pieces of art is seeing it come to fruition. To start from a thought and or conversation, to a drawing and a piece of paper, and go on to an actual 3-D piece of art for someone is truly a wonderful feeling.

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsWhat does your typical day in the studio look like?

A typical day for me is always different. My work consists of blacksmithing and forming the heads and polishing and riveting. So depending on my mood, that’s which process I dive into for that day.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I have my grandfather’s anvil that I use and think of him all the time when I look at it. It’s key in my production and reminds me of a hard working man I admire so much.

Jill Rikkers | UncommonGoodsImagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

My work appeals to all ages. My little niece just brought a set of my serving pieces into her first grade class for show-and-tell last week. So I think everyone enjoys them. And being a girl making these is also a good eye-opener for many people, especially the young ones, to see it is a possibility for anyone to do this.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

The act of creating keeps me motivated. I have to make something every day or it’s not a complete day for me. I’m a bit addicted to the creative process.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Heather Kelly

November 12, 2015

Heather Kelly | UncommonGoods
Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Heather Kelly, the artist behind our new Planet Lollipops.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist/artisan/maker?
Being an artist/artisan came about purely by accident. I have always had a crafty way about me but after my sister opened an Etsy shop to sell hair ribbons and told me about a relative of ours that made one pillow and sold it on the same venue, I was intrigued. I enjoy being in the kitchen and decided I would make fortune cookies with custom messages. It all started there. Curiosity drove me to other custom edibles including lollipops, which we make exclusively today. The days of those fortune cookies are long gone.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist/artisan/maker?
It is particularly exciting to be noticed by big names. That what you’re doing is special enough and unique enough to get noticed; Martha Stewart, CNET–my business has received a lot of attention for some big names and creating a “wow factor” with them is great fun.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I have about 30 employees now so my day is spent managing people mainly. I am also deeply involved in customer service, sales, web development and social media. Luckily I get to apply creative license across many platforms. And they do still take my ideas in the kitchen.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
My inspiration honestly is my family. I have four boys and I want them to come up seeing me work hard and be rewarded for that. I hope that example rubs off on them and they lead productive, hard working lives and contribute to whatever career they ultimately decide on.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?
This has happened! We have donated lollipops to schools studying space and the solar system. Almost all of them start identifying the planets in each lollipop and “Wow…cool…” is almost always the first thing they say. Right before they say “Yummy”.

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I have a few quotes that I keep handy. Three from others. One is my own.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.
– Arthur O’Shaughnessy & Willy Wonka

Creativity is intelligence having fun.
-Albert Einstein

Creativity is a continual surprise.
– Ray Bradbury

It’s simply not good enough to just be capable of greatness.
-Me

Planet Lollipops | UncommonGoods

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Matt Butler

November 2, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the people behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Matt Butler, the artist behind our new linocut prints.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

I realized I wanted to be a full-time maker when my hobby of printmaking transformed into a passion. I was working as a teacher at the time and pulling prints at night. I started to see the positive reactions my work was getting and knew I needed to make a more serious commitment to printmaking.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?

The most exciting part of going full-time was the unknown. It was thrilling taking a risk that hinged on my creativity and ability to produce work that people liked and wanted. There are definitely some days that I wish I was the one making all the decisions but in the end it’s part of what makes this fun.

Matt Butler | UncommonGoods

What does your typical day in the studio look like?

Each day is pretty different but most days start with emails/brief procrastination on the computer. Some days are spent mostly on the computer working on new designs but many are spent on my feet pulling prints.

Heart Venn Diagram | UncommonGoods

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I don’t have one single thing that is inspirational but I do have a handful of items related to printing that were my grandfather’s. He was very passionate about lettering, typography, and printmaking. I came to love these things too late to share the passion with him but my grandmother had held on to some items and tools and they are now scattered around my studio. I like to think he would approve of my career choice.

Falling Linocut | UncommonGoods

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartener for the first time. What do you think they would say?

I’m afraid they might find it boring and not understand some of the wit involved. They might find the texture and impression in the paper nice though!

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?

Do work.

See the Collection | UncommonGoods

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